I thought about, for a long time, if I should or should not write up a review for THE DARK KNIGHT. I shouldn’t, and I won’t. How I feel about this movie is completely and utterly irrelevant in relation to what I’m about to write. Besides, there are simply too many people reviewing this goddamn movie. What else could I possibly say about it that hasn’t already been said (good or bad)? From “blogs” (I hate that word), to Rotten Tomatoes, to newspapers, to webpages, to IMDB, to actual critics. In a world where any dipshit can claim themselves as a “critic”, 90% of these people have thrown their measly two cents into the fold on the latest “big thing”. Is the Dark Knight the new iPod?? Jesus, I hope not.
The amount of user comments (code for REVIEWS) currently on the film over at IMDB is up to about 1500; this only less than a week after the film was released. What’s more: a good percentage of these comments gave the film 10 out of 10 stars, presumably without even thinking about what they’d just seen in the stadium theater of their choosing while woofing down Milkduds and IM’ing on their iPhones. This hyper-inflation, over ration, and downright idiocy has resulted in The Dark Knight becoming the highest ranked film EVER on iMDB. Now, the message boards and iMDB community are setting off the red-alert alarms and heading for the panic rooms shouting “iMDB’s credibility has been ruined forever!! Unless of course The Godfather retakes the Top spot on the Top 250 List!”.
Movie fans aren’t the leading authority on the greatest movie of all time, FILM HISTORIANS are. Most film historians would tell anyone that The Godfather, although pretty damn close to hitting mainstream-American-flick perfection, by all means is NOT the greatest film of all time. In fact, it isn’t even close. There are numerous films that still hold more influence than The Godfather, and still come closer to onscreen perfection. I’m not going to attempt claiming [fill in the blank] is the best film of all time; but I certainly could name at least 5-7 that are better than Godfather, and at least 15 that I enjoy watching more as my “favorites”. The Godfather freaks just need to chill out, because the Metropolis freaks are keeping their mouths shut, and they deserve to speak up even more so. Fritz Lang who? German Expressionism mixed with early Sci-Fi what? So there’s that, first of all.
There’s something really annoying about people who claim something as the “best of the year”, much less “best ever”, before the year (or existence) is over with. The only comment of this ilk that has any credence at all is maybe, and it is still a MAYBE, “best superhero” and/or “best comic book” movie up to this point. But I’m not even sure that’s true. Superman, Superman II, and even something like Batman Begins, might be better just to name a few. But that’s isn’t the point I’m trying to make. Many many people now are claiming absolutely ludicrous things about The Dark Knight, the film is ranked number one on iMDB’s Top 250 List, and it will make probably the most money out of any movie ever made when all is said and done. What exactly does all this extreme hype and over-rating result in? If Newton’s Third Law has taught me anything: every action requires an equal and opposite reaction.
This (the equal and opposite reaction) comes in the form of people talking shit before they’ve even seen the movie, websites devoted solely to explaining why the movie isn’t good, and people giving it 1, 2, or 3 stars (even when they’d normally give it a 5, 6 or 7) to balance out the insane numbers of 10s on websites like iMDB.
As the pop culture hype machine seemingly worked over time in the week leading up to the release of The Dark Knight, the “this movie sucks” machine also kicked into high gear. People began talking shit about the movie, the Ledger award buzz and even his acting in the film, before even seeing the damn thing. Those who did get to see it beforehand, the press mostly but also people like Dave Letterman, said how enjoyable it was. I’ve been guilty of this in the past, not liking something because everyone else likes it, but I try so hard to like or dislike something based on my opinion of said item; the only legitimate way to do it. Lots of these examples of mine are true opinions, not the result of everyone else liking it. Rock Band for example: I just think it’s a shitty, repetitive game with almost no amount of immersion or pure gameplay experience.
On top of all this talking shit, a movement began from the ground up on doing more than simply talking shit. I stumbled across the WordPress page The Dark Knight Sucks.com a couple of days ago. On the page, the writer links visitors to many different articles, pages, op-eds, like his, explaining why the movie sucks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this ever before! A movement this widespread trying to desperately tell people why a film is bad; it’s astonishing. Why aren’t there any movements like this explaining why U2 sucks ass? [Where the FUCK would Edge be without Digital Delay and/or Reverb? Bono's range is minimal at best. Bass player = Four notes over and over and over and over. The drummer is average]
To balance out the excesses of the iMDB rating system, many of these folks I’ve mentioned above are also rating the film at a one or two, zero of they could. When, we all know that majority of these people, even if they don’t like the movie, don’t actually think it’s THAT bad. If they decided to go out and see it opening weekend, chances are even if they didn’t like it, it isn’t one of the worst movies they’d ever seen. Even “Hail To The Chimp” averages a 2.7. Ok- that was more of a Simpsons reference than anything else. If these people enjoy movies at all, it’d be difficult to see them rating this a 1. Again, they’re just simply trying to balance out the madness. In a way, I find this last extreme (rating below what you actually think) fairly admirable. Someone’s got to do it. At the same time though, why the fuck should I rate a movie much lower than what I think it deserves because it is obviously over-rated? It doesn’t make any sense idealistically.
All this really makes me laugh, though, when I remember one of the main themes this movie delivers (among many). The Batman comic book has delved into this theme for a long time as well (from Dark Knight Returns to Killing Joke to Denny O’Neil and others), and no doubt this is one of the big nods from Christopher Nolan to Batman comics. That theme: the appearance and cultural influence of a man dressed like bat fighting crime actually ATTRACTS lunatics to Gotham City, as well as incites them to behave as insanely as they do. This to me is quite fascinating. The argument is that the cultural landscape of a major Metropolitan area like Gotham City shifts and contracts with any little ripple that is thrown at it, much like New York City. And, such an extreme response to corruption, crime, and poverty can only have an extreme reaction. In this sense, Batman does much more harm than good for the people of Gotham.
This could also be compared to the United State’s War On Terrorism (sorry, “terror”), in that such a balls-out approach at battling terrorism actually invites MORE terrorists to do what they do, and creates more terrorists (as the Washington Post Article from about a year ago empirically claimed). And that is true, they’re more terrorists now than there were before the United States invaded Iraq, and it has become a hotbed for that type of activity (although the “surge” has dramatically worked); similar to how the presence of Batman has turned Gotham into a hotbed for obscene and bizarre crimes and criminals.
So why the fuck am I bringing any of this up? Well- if you haven’t seen it (un-fuckin’-likely)- The Dark Knight very much plays with this theme. This is precisely where the extreme irony comes into play: we’re seeing the EXACT same theme play out, in almost the EXACT same way, among the pop cultural membrane of this 2008 summer. The Dark Knight lovers are taking extreme measures in showing the landscape that they indeed ENJOY this movie: voting 10 out of 10, claiming it as the “best” everything, seeing it at midnight, etc. In response to this, a group of collective individuals, who deem this to be downright ridiculousness, have taken their own extreme measures: voting below what they think the film actually deserves, dismissing it before they’ve even seen it, and devoting entire webpages at tearing the film down. Could Gotham City be a metaphor for our popular cultural landscape? Most definitely yes… even the “fake Batmen” could represent the likes of Spiderman 3, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Punisher: War Zone.
People who don’t like this movie cite mostly one major problem with it: the film’s plot and story simply require too much suspension of disbelief to be good, especially when the schtick of Nolan’s Batverse is that it is steeped in realism. Fair enough. I’m not going to agree or disagree with this; again, I’m not here to argue for or against the movie. But I’d like to say how terribly ironic this is when we examine Chris Nolan’s last movie about turn of the century magicians.
There are many overall themes present in The Prestige, like most of Nolan’s films. One that stuck with me quite a bit was the idea of suspending one’s disbelief in order to enjoy, in the film’s case, magic tricks. The movie could be viewed as a magic trick, in a way. It requires a huge amount of this when it presents, effectively, what the film’s plot hinges on: the machine that successfully duplicates inorganic and organic materials, even human beings. It is extremely unrealistic and something tells me that one or more of Tesla’s (David Bowie) comments on the nature of science is a brief nod to what is and isn’t possible (and maybe even transcending that).
I remember when The Prestige had just come out, the Internet was flooded with people naysaying the plot. Saying how unrealistic it was. Those people didn’t understand the themes of the movie. In fact, they’re playing right into Nolan’s hands by questioning his plot with “this could never happen realistically” remarks. Not only that, but they’re participants in his audience experiment which wonders what, and what not, audiences will accept for a little enjoyment (like Bale and Jackman’s audiences in the film). He and his co-writers had to have been laughing at those little controversies over the film. It’s fucking hilarious that people bitch about the very thing the movie’s examining. I’ve got to imagine that Nolan, along with his brother who wrote The Dark Knight, were reminded very much so of their LAST completed script and movie, whilst writing their Batman sequal.
Nolan has attacked the notion of suspension of disbelief before; so complaining about the plot being too far-fetched only cements his reputation as having a Filmography that: works together well, expands on itself sequentially, and is so terribly fucking ironic.
He WANTS people to say it’s far-fetched and unrealistic, it only makes his previous film (The Prestige) that much more relevant. This gripe with the movie is pretty much the only legitimate gripe I’ve heard; I didn’t go through all that to discount the validity of the “it isn’t realistic” argument, rather to point out the irony in that argument. The rest of the complaints have been just bland and boring and typical and trivial. Shit- complaining about Bale’s voice while he’s in the suit (if you hate this movie because of Batman’s voice… I just…. WOW… get real… go discover some old Hitchcock and shut the fuck up… wow), replacing a character with a new actress (who also “isn’t hot”), too long, too much action, not enough Joker/Batman scenes, not enough non-implied violence, and the like. These aren’t REAL gripes with a movie. In fact, I had many gripes that it seems nobody’s mentioning. The dialogue being one of my major ones, for example. But I digress.
[This ISN'T a REVIEW. This ISN'T a REVIEW]
In the end, not liking something because it’s popular is just as lame as liking something because it’s popular. If not worse (which is why everyday I try to resist this). The two extremes, “this is the best movie of all time” and “The Dark Knight sucks”, play right into the hands of Christopher Nolan by validating his point that one extreme presence/movement will attract another (although opposite). And frankly, both of these extremes are as idiotic as the other; it isn’t as great as everyone says it is, but how can one go and see it and say it’s one of the worst movies they’ve ever seen (giving it 1 out of 10 stars). If the one big gripe anyone has with the movie is that it’s far-fetched, you’re also playing right into his hands by giving his collective Filmography the relevance and irony to become very memorable. I was already annoyed to begin with (I Feel Like An Old Metallica Fan), but now I’m somehow more annoyed.
Why are so many people, on both sides, making such a big deal about The Dark Knight?? It isn’t Citizen Kane. At some restaurant booth somewhere, Chris Nolan and his brother are laughing their asses off. Oh the irony.